João Ubaldo Ribeiro Jorge Amado - Essay

Jorge Amado

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Among the works of fiction published in Brazil in the last decade, few have been as important as João Ubaldo Ribeiro's Sergeant Getúlio for the development of our fiction. The importance of this novel is, among other things, that it makes possible the harmonious development of the literary art by preserving and deepening the most significant traits of a literature characterized throughout its history by its persistent concern with exposing both individual and social problems; in other words, a literature free of all gratuitousness.

Another reason for the novel's importance is the language of Sergeant Getúlio, the fruit of a literary idiom which has been taking shape for a long time, based upon creative work with the vital, popular, rich and free language that is Brazilian Portuguese, so distant from the Portuguese of Portugal in spite of their common roots. (p. ix)

Sergeant Getúlio is a novel that not only avoids the alienation process, but also points to the way in which Brazilian literature should evolve, experimenting and innovating. In developing an extremely rich narrative voice, the novelist makes use of his deep knowledge of the language spoken by the people, of the most profound reality of our people, and so his literary language is a fertile and powerful instrument of creation, competent and faithful in its artistic representation of the life of the Brazilian man….

The language in Sergeant Getúlio, artistically molded on the speech of the people, is often terse, hard, and cruel…. And this language gives very proper expression to the strong substance of the book, which is treated with extraordinary ability in original technical solutions. Among the mass of books published in Brazil in the last ten years, Sergeant Getúlio stands out as one of the few works contributing to the development of a literary art that is genuinely Brazilian. (p. xi)

Jorge Amado, in his introduction to Sergeant Getúlio, by João Ubaldo Ribeiro (copyright © 1977 by João Ubaldo Ribeiro; reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company), Houghton, 1978, pp. ix-xii.